What follows is a snippet of a session of Street Epistemology aimed at some core ideas of Satanism.
Interlocutor: I understand that you are a Satanist, and the ideas of hierarchy and stratification are core ideas of Satanism. Could we have a conversation about these ideas and get into what they entail?
Satanist: Stratification is the principle that people fall to their own level in life. It directly goes against egalitarianism. Although, this is very vague and open-ended on the surface, so we should unpack what this means.
Egalitarianism is the belief that people are equal in political, economic, or social life. It holds that all people are fundamentally of equal worth or social status. But this is not true. People are varied in their talent, worth, intelligence, and potential for leading a fulfilling life. Not everyone is cut out to be great. I should be clear: this is not to say that human beings should not have an equal starting point in life, or that humans should not have the same opportunities to get ahead in life, or that humans should not have the same basic rights. Rather, it is to say, after the satisfaction of basic rights and opportunities (such as access to education), it is up to the individual to rise or fall based on their own abilities, skills, and motivation. People naturally excel or not by their own doing. In this regard, we are not all equal. Not everyone is cut out to be a Beethoven, or Faraday, or Hölderlin. And not everyone is of equal worth by default. Prisons are littered with examples of subhumans who have done detestable things; human history is also illustrative of human atrocity and unequal worth based on cruelty and greed (not to be confused with a healthy appetite of selfishness). Worth is conditional. One is of worth if they have demonstrated themselves to be worthy and not unworthy.
Interlocutor: So what you are saying is: people are not inherently equal by default; that people rise or fall based on their own skill?
Satanist: Correct. People are inherently unequal. As said, after the satisfaction of basic rights and opportunities, people have a different measure of intelligence, skill, or capacity to succeed in life. That is not to say we should not help those who are legitimately trying to better themselves–far from it, I am a humanist myself. It is a matter of honesty. Satanism is meritocratic. One gets what they put in. We see this in the world at large. Satanism aims to be a realistic ideology.
Interlocutor: Okay, sure, I can get behind the idea that we are all different in our characteristics and potential; but is the world really meritocratic?
Satanist: I certainly think so, and I can demonstrate it. Even at the economic level we deal in a meritocracy. If one has a job, they are more likely to succeed and climb their way up the career ladder if they are proficient at what they do. Conversely, if one is mediocre or horrible at what they do, they are surely to get replaced or fired. We can even show this at the social level. If one takes their vehicle to a mechanic, and that mechanic has shown oneself to be unreliable, the car will surely be taken elsewhere. If a person has treated another in a bad way and has shown oneself to be contemptible, that person surely will not be treated with any further consideration or kindness. And that is the idea in Satanism; it has taken principles shown in the world and has built itself on them.
Interlocutor: What about the various meanings of hierarchy? I have heard a lot about elitism in Satanism, but what does that mean, and what does that mean in relation to hierarchy? Do you view yourself as being superior to others, or superior to those you deem inferior?
Satanist: We see hierarchy in nature, as in wolf packs for example. Water naturally seeks its own level. Going back to stratification, the members that make up a society will naturally peak or fall on their own. It is only natural that the wheat will be separated from the chaff and a hierarchy will form. Satanism advocates realism and self-awareness. One learns where one naturally falls in society and then acts accordingly. If a Satanist naturally falls within a proletarian framework, for example, and sees that one naturally thrives in that sphere and that a more bourgeois lifestyle is unnatural, then Satanism advocates for that individual to dominate the sphere one most naturally excels in. Satanism holds that hierarchy will be maintained in society naturally and, with realism and self-awareness, one will take up the role that best suits them. Masters will be masters; slaves will be slaves.
Satanism is elitist. Satanism aims for the greatest that one can be. It is about being honest and rational with oneself and then figuring out where one falls in life, and then unapologetically getting the most out of one’s life within that sphere. Apart from that, Satanism sees those who align themselves with it as the “Alien Elite”. Alien because Satanists are outsiders to their society–they are alien to the dominant ideologies, aesthetics, and lifestyles; elite because Satanists view themselves as superior in quality to the mass ideologies of asceticism and mediocrity. Satanists aim to excel in every facet of life. Satanists live based on a higher standard in terms of ideological, physical, and emotional greatness. We are, as Nietzsche put it, yes-sayers to all life has to offer. We love life and we love quality in life. Satanists see themselves as being above the cultures of convention and mindless consumerism. That is not to say Satanism has a disdain for materialism; Satanists are Epicureans (as opposed to hard hedonism), after all. Ultimately, Satanists are not bogged down by the hang-ups of popular religion, “spirituality”, or herd instincts–being an adopting of conformity and group-think. In this way, Satanism views itself as being superior in its ideology, elite in its principles, as opposed to the popular morass of egalitarianism and bland conformity. In Nietzschean language, this can be represented in terms of master and slave morality or instincts. We view herd instincts as being inferior to aristocratic principles.
Interlocutor: So, Satanists see themselves as being superior to things like convention, conformity, mediocrity, and egalitarian group-think? What do you mean by consumerism, and what is so bad about it? This entire line of thought can generally be conceived of as being condescending and pretentious posturing. What’s your beef with society at large and conventional ideologies?
Satanist: Things like mere convention or tradition and the like that gets adopted by the status quo should be questioned and scrutinized. Satanism is not the ideology that “runs on automatic”. Satanism holds up the standard of investigation and evaluation. As “Satanists” we take up our role from the Hebrew meaning of Satan: the adversary. We are questioners and adversaries of things like convention and “spirituality”. We stand as skeptics before popular social mores and popular moralities.
The consumerism that Satanism is against is this busying about with ever new commodities that get pushed around in various media. It is a kind of mindlessness where one finds one’s identity in new and arbitrary products which certain media tells one to buy. It could be a latest clothing style, vehicle, music, home utility, brand of food, or entertainment apparatus. In simpler terms, it is the mindlessness of the public and the public sphere. Martin Heidegger talked about this public sphere and the busying of oneself in this mindlessness. He called it the realm of “the They”–from the German “das Man”, or “the One”. The One or the They being this amorphous entity which is everyone and no one. We are all the They, yet the They is no one in particular. It is the public world and busying interests of whimsical public life. We are all in the realm of the One: we live in a world where people do as “one” does, thinks and believes as “one” does, lives a life that “one” does. Satanism challenges the conventions that “one” already holds. Satanists are above the public rabble. Instead of being lost in this nebulous “They-self”, Satanists are self-made individualists. There is admittedly a degree of condescension, as we are the accusers of our world, but it is not condescension for mere condescension’s sake. If pretentious posturing is thought of it, it is not intended. Pretentiousness is a “Satanic Sin” so to speak. We think the goods should be delivered rather than empty posturing. So, our “beef” with society at large and convention lies in this public mindlessness. Again, Satanism upholds a higher standard of greatness. We strive to be a higher caliber of a person.
Interlocutor: So, to restate–and correct me if I am wrong–you are looking down upon a society that fosters a sort of mindless consumerism and convention; is that correct?
Satanist: That is correct. But it is not a mere looking down. Posturing has no place in Satanism. It is an accusation and opposition of that sort of society. Mindlessness and a lazy intellect are seen as repulsive in Satanism. It is not the case that Satanism is looking down upon the one who finds a gratifying joy in material gains, whether they be in entertainment or anything else. Satanists are materialists. It is rather that Satanism is condemning a fostered mindlessness where one has become a sort of drone that is lost in the whims of various media. One thinks what “they” tell one to think. One buys the products that “they” tell one to buy. Satanism values clear and critical thought rather than a drone running on automatic.
Interlocutor: But what if this condemning attitude toward a certain group of people comes off as offensive?
Satanist: The short answer is: so what? People have forgotten what it is like to be challenged on their positions. People need to be acquainted with opposition every now and again, at least to stimulate reflection on their positions. Mindlessness can be shown to be detrimental. Cognitive faculties become dull and reasoning breaks down. One becomes easy and open for control. Without restraint and skepticism one opens oneself up to be taken advantage of. But the real meat of the issue lies in the principle underpinning this mindlessness. Thinking is a virtue. Granted, not everyone is cut-out to, or wants to, be a philosopher; but thinking should be in the best interest of everyone. It is in the best interest of society and wellbeing in general that critical thinking be practiced. Reality becomes clearer and our thought out positions lead to a more fulfilling life. If objecting to a dull and brainless society is offensive, that is a good indicator of just how degenerate our time has become.